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What does a healthy lifestyle mean to you?  Is it a way of living that allows you to enjoy your life in a more fulfilling way? Or, is it about trying to avoid one illness after another or just trying not to feel bad? It should be about feeling and being well physically, mentally and socially. It should be about making choices to help you feel your best for as long as possible. Living a healthy lifestyle is about making the right choices and saying “Yes!” to life.

FUNDAMENTALS FOR LIVING HEALTHY

You need a body that can support you well into your old age. You want mental clarity, quality relationships, good working internal functions, and a feeling of well-being. Well, living a healthy lifestyle can get you there, or at least improve your condition. Here are four recommendations.

1. EXERCISE

Don’t be surprised that this is on the list. It’s unavoidable. Physical activity is essential to healthy living. The body was meant to move, and when it doesn’t, it can become ill and unhappy. Physical activity stimulates the body’s natural maintenance and repair systems. It improves circulation to the heart and lungs. It gives strength to ward off injuries, and it increases the mobility in our muscles and joints. Physical activity also releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormones that create a sense of general well-being. Physical activity is essential for the body and the mind.

Exercises include brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, rowing, jogging and elliptical workouts. Resistive training (lifting weights), yoga, boot camps, tai chi, group fitness classes, and Pilates are good exercise workouts.  They should be performed along with cardiovascular-type workouts.

2. EAT HEALTHY

Have you ever heard of the sayings “You are what you eat.” or “garbage in garbage out”? Well, they are true. What you put into your body directly affects how you feel physically–your mood, your mental clarity, your internal workings, and even your skin. Eating healthy does not mean eating expensive foods with little taste. As a matter of fact, there are some fantastic health recipes in cookbooks and online that use ordinary foods. Aim for a diet that has protein, is low in salt, fat and unprocessed foods, and is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids. A multi vitamin will ensure you are meeting your nutrient requirements.

3. REDUCE STRESS

Get rid of the stress! Stress occurs when life gets out of balance physically, mentally or emotionally. This imbalance can be caused by internal stress like worrying too much, environmental stress like pressure from work, personal stress from family or friends, or stress from being fatigued or overworked. Being stressed out can affect your health in a variety of ways. You can become tired, sick, tense, irritable, and unable to think clearly. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you will need to manage the stress in your life so that it does not overtake you. Take charge of your thoughts, emotions, tasks, and environment to get your body in balance.

4. GET ADEQUATE SLEEP

Lack of adequate sleep clearly affects our thinking (cognitive processes). A sleep-deprived brain is running on half its cylinders. If it’s trying to be creative, the “motor” doesn’t work as well. It can perform calculations, but not as quickly and is more likely to make errors. The brain’s engine hasn’t been replenished.

Sleep deprivation affects us physically. Our coordination suffers. We lose our ability to do things with agility. Sleep improves muscle tone and skin appearance. Athletes run faster, swim better and can lift more weight. In addition, there are differences in immune responses related to lack of sleep.

The amount of sleep a person needs will vary from individual to individual, but most individuals require about eight hours.

Take action!

Here are some specifics for living a healthy lifestyle:

  • Use the food pyramid as a guide
  • Eat fewer processed foods
  • Reduce your sugar intake
  • Grill, boil, or bake foods rather than fry them
  • Eat lots of fresh, locally produced vegetables and fruits
  • Avoid adding salt to meals at the table
  • Regulate portion sizes (a portion is about the size of your fist)
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Don’t eat foods that have a “Lifetime Warranty” 
  • Stop smoking
  • Laugh a lot
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise at a moderate intensity, for at least a half an hour three to five times per week
  • Find ways to eliminate stress – meditate, focus on your breath, exercise, use guided imagery, listen to music
  • Give to others with no strings attached
  • Smile at strangers
  • Learn to say “No”
  • Avoid people who put their stress on you
  • Remember to say “Please” and “Thank you”
  • Take control of your life

This is the only life you have.  Make the most of it!

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